In response to a recent post Mya asked whether coconut oil was healthy to cook with. This is a good question as over recent years many have come to believe that it provides health benefits. While on the other hand traditional medical advice has been that it is bad for us because true coconut oil is almost all saturated fat and that consumption of saturated fat increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The Australian Heart Foundation still promotes this as true when there is no modern evidence to support the statement and there is robust scientific evidence to refute it. Old myths die hard.
I would classify coconut oil as health neutral with regard to heart attack and stroke risk.
Natural Coconut oil is nearly all saturated fat (health neutral) and solid at room temperature and should appear as in the picture above. Liquid coconut oil can be found in some health food outlets, do not purchase this product as it is likely to have polyunsaturated fats (generally health negative) added in order to lower its melting point so that it is liquid at room temperature.
On the other hand oils that are high in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats are health positive, that is, do seem to reduce adverse health risks. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and rich in plant phytochemicals which also appear to provide additional health benefits. So in practice it should be used ahead of coconut oil, but!
Coconut oil adds a beautiful flavour to many dishes, and its not bad for you, so use it when you want that special coconut flavour, and when you don’t use extra virgin olive oil.
When it comes to processed food avoid any food that includes the words “vegetable oil” in the ingredients label.
Any excess consumption of any food type, be it fat, carbs, protein, alcohol or food considered healthy, it will be converted to ‘bad fat’ and stored, Excess food consumption increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as some cancers, type II diabetes and dementias. It is now also abundantly clear that excess food consumption almost certainly accelerates the ageing process, and this could be why it is associated with the chronic diseases mentioned above.
On this happy note, enjoy the flavours coconut oil adds to a wide range of tasty dishes!